Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Posts tagged ‘progress’

Comparison is For Major Purchases, Not People

Acceptance Instead of Comparison

At the gym as in life, we are all at different places on our journey. Comparison is both meaningless and self-defeating. And yet, while working out around people at different levels, it’s all too easy to find ourselves making comparisons; some even favorable to ourselves.

There’s no way for us to know where anyone started except ourselves. The only valid comparison is where we are now vs. where we were at some specified point in the past, and then, only to show ourselves how far we’ve come.

Each of us progresses in our own unique way. A heavier person might have 4 or 5 times the strength of a wispy woman. Then again, she might not. Outside appearance is the least accurate barometer for forward progress.

Looking at the Outside Misses Where Our Real Changes Occur

Sure, you can look at someone who’s dropped 50 or 100 pounds and see progress. But what you see is superficial compared to the internal changes they made in order to release the weight. Those outward changes couldn’t have happened without a lot of internal redirection, a huge shift in mindset and values, and a decision to make those changes plus the will to make new habits. How can someone on the outside looking in possibly know the mountains we move to make those changes?

By the same token, we don’t have any way of knowing how far another person has come, so how on earth can we possibly compare ourselves and our journey to theirs?

Comparison is a momentum killer.

Comparison is a short road to discouragement. It allows us to fall back into “you’re not good enough” mode where we ignore all the progress we’ve made, looking instead at how far we have to go. But our progress wasn’t made in a series of giant leaps. Chances are, we took a lot of baby steps and maybe, just maybe, the occasional giant leap. The mountain we set off to climb must be scaled one step at a time.

Focusing on Our Own Progress

That doesn’t mean the steps don’t get easier as we gain skill and strength. Nor will those baby steps remain the same minuscule size as we learn and grow. But as we progress our perspective changes too. What was once a major accomplishment is barely a blip on our personal radar. We reset not only our goals but our expectations as we go. That too is progress.

Expecting more of ourselves when we’re ready, or almost ready is what makes us reach for loftier and loftier goals. If we set our bar at a level too far beyond our current capabilities, we’d get discouraged and give up before we made what we’d consider significant progress. But if we set smaller, reachable goals, we’ll experience a feeling of accomplishment that will motivate us to keep trying.

My biggest challenge is to release the excess weight I’ve accumulated over the years. Though it’s been rough going the last few months, I can stop myself and remember that there are about 20 pounds I’ve released and not allowed to creep back. Yes, there are also 5 or 10 which have, but the ones that haven’t motivate me to keep trying because I have some success to look at.

Meanwhile, I’ve gone from barely being able to lift a pound with my left arm, courtesy of a herniated disc in my neck to getting comments from men at the gym about how much weight I’m lifting now. It didn’t happen over night, and it’s not helping me take off as much weight as I’d like, but it is progress. In fact, when I pull up MyFitnessPal to see what weight I’m using on various machines or free weights each week, I’m often surprised to see the numbers have climbed as high as they have.

Figuring Out What Motivates Us

Most of my progress has occurred in the last year, when I finally found a schedule I’d follow consistently, and created what I hope will be a lifelong habit. It might have taken me a few extra decades to get there, but that’s how my journey is unfolding. I’m OK with that.

Comparison has another ugly side. When we see ourselves as less, or not as good as, we tend to treat ourselves unkindly. We give up on ourselves. We feel unworthy. None of that crap is true. We slip back into old habits, but we don’t have to stay there. We need to remind ourselves it’s OK to make mistakes or fall off track as long as we treat ourselves kindly and get back on that track before we do ourselves too much damage.

The trouble is, we tend to be quicker to beat ourselves up than forgive our own transgressions. And boy are we stingy with praise for the person who deserves our praise the most!

Focus on Now and the Rest Will Follow

One way I’ve found to get off the comparison merry-go-round is to focus on what we are doing, thinking, and feeling in the current moment—in the Now. Feel how our bodies and minds are responding to the new tasks we’ve set, and don’t worry about what happened 5 minutes ago. If we ate a cookie, or skipped a set, it’s done and can’t be re-done. So let it go and embrace this moment, making it the best we can.

I also like to make lists. At the end of the day, I make a list of at least 10 things I accomplished. They don’t have to be big things, and often, I give myself a couple of “gimme’s”. They’re things I do every day without thinking about it like writing my Morning Pages, and making the bed (another habit I had to work to achieve). To the outside world, they might seem insignificant.

To many of my friends, making the bed has been a lifelong habit. For me, as the Queen of Clutter for so many years, it was one more thing I had to learn to find important. But forming and keeping the habit taught me that climbing back into bed during the day was no longer an option. Ask anyone who has fought depression at any point in their life, and you’ll understand why such a small, seemingly ordinary task can make a huge difference in how a day unfolds. Learning to make my bed every morning turned days on end of laziness, lack of motivation or inspiration, and long-term failure into the desire to finish what I started and form more healthy habits.

What I’m saying in my usual long, roundabout way is, if you must compare, look at who you are today, what you have accomplished, and how far you’ve come. The only person we have to be better than is ourselves. The only improvements that matter in our lives are the ones we make to the person we are now, and the person we want to become. Look objectively. Look without judging. See yourself without unrealistic expectations. I promise you’ll see someone marvelous, accomplished and amazing who’s conquered a lot of odds and challenges to become the ever-evolving person they are today.

Remember to Be Grateful for Accomplishments Both Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my evolving perspective.
  2. I am grateful for the many accomplishments which continue to help me evolve.
  3. I am grateful for reminders that I’m perfect the way I am, but can always make myself a better me.
  4. I am grateful for people who can be examples for me rather than comparisons where I find myself lacking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; self-love, joy, health, new habits, friendship, dancing, inspiration, motivation, prosperity, peace, harmony, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

DUFF No More

Refusing to Remain a DUFF

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8225835927/in/photolist-dwTyrn-a3ks33-9mvXys-6ja1gb-9yrH2G-nDdzvx-XUYUcB-5mVAik-aGc4QM-rcaJkB-te2rAP-a7Uq98-3dzbhp-GAf1t-n7eEii-SdF6ND-NpW4QT-Nn4EE7-Q1PXro-6GmuAj-Nb8fd-aGc4LK-5rvjUB-9G5iLz-dViNns-47qcTR-8gCJx7-53s2we-8Amcx2-651TAL-e3ogb6-3Sf9H3-23Jx66D-4beknX-477UHP-Nb8cA-61cxQD-7htzF3-e3tWNL-58nCxm-e3ogk4-27FNZKJ-9NHU1S-i23hC-8Rg5Yu-5tzpF9-CvzijW-Ck2RtR-28aTBt3-MweagTI looked around at my current circle of friends at a recent dance gathering and realized a few things. First, I’ve migrated to a younger circle of women lately. I can’t always keep up with them, but there’s no shame in going at my own pace. Second, they’re all slender and look cute in their little dresses and skirts—and I’m not.

My first reaction was frustration with myself for allowing the weight to creep back on over the last few months. Not all of it, but enough that some clothes were tight again, and others looked pretty awful on me. Meanwhile, I see myself in cute little dresses but the cute little dresses don’t see themselves on me.

Protecting My Heart a Little Too Well

Too often in my life, I’ve been the fact chick amongst the skinny ones; the DUFF if you will. But https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqin the past, though I may not have realized it, I used my weight as a defense mechanism. Guys wouldn’t approach the fat chick when the skinny ones were around. Nobody would get close to my heart if they were too disgusted to even try to get to know me, right?

As logic goes, it was effective but faulty. I’ve since learned I don’t need excess weight to guard my heart, if that’s what I want to do. My demeanor alone can manage that task effectively. So I set myself an aggressive but reasonable goal, put it on the spreadsheet I use to track my weight, and vowed to accept all suggestions for additional dance nights. My knees may scream for awhile, but they’ll thank me in the long run as I reduce the amount of pressure they endure while carrying more pounds than they’re designed for.

Our Inside Controls Our Outside

One of those cute, slim friends pointed out I’m more of a DFF than a DUFF as I’m not and never have been ugly. Sure, there were times I was less attractive, but it was my bearing, my anger, and the misery I held close like a security blanket which contributed to my unattractiveness. The attributes I was born with had nothing to do with it.

We all control our outward appearance from the inside more than we realize. I’ve seen people the world might consider unattractive looking absolutely breathtaking because of a glow which came from within. I’ve also seen strikingly beautiful women who made me turn my head away in distaste because they exuded such ugliness and filth from within, it completely negated whatever pretty packaging they were either born with or had enhanced.

Loving Who and Where We Are

I’ve learned when we’re truly enjoying what we’re doing, or our life in general, people see that far more than what our meat suit looks like. They’re drawn to the energy (or repelled as the case may be). The face, the hair, the eyes, how we look in clothes are secondary.

Still, we tend to focus and even fixate on those characteristics in ourselves. I’m as guilty as the next person in that regard. But our outside image is fixable to some degree. I’m not a proponent of drastic measures like plastic surgery, liposuction, fat freezing, or stomach stapling, but I’ve proven I can effect the desired changes in myself. I realize it’s not the case for everyone, and some may need help getting started.

I’ve also learned we’re not going to make positive changes until we love and accept ourselves as we are. That doesn’t mean we believe we’re perfect as we are or that we couldn’t stand a little improvement. But we believe we are lovable and beautiful in our own way as we are, and worth the effort to make improvements we believe we need to make. Without that self-love, no diet, surgery, or health plan will ever be successful. It may appear so to others from the outside looking in, but to the child inside ourselves, we’ll still find ourselves lacking and in need of improvement in order to be loved.

Starting from the Inside

What I’m saying is, we need to do the internal work first or we’re doomed to fail when trying to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamullen/15936340893/in/photolist-qheUWa-6tvCyC-mfcahW-kF42vg-7aHRKn-dozSYs-upc1JR-5nU36i-6ZX1X8-9soFsZ-b6p5F2-dKgSFh-9soP3r-9GGyf-edzaxy-dKgQLq-4oLacT-9z49UC-aBS6db-kF5mTy-dbhFbp-83VBDF-JGdSxG-dKgR3q-dKbnZX-kF3i5M-kF2WWF-25sqyfg-kF3het-dKgU63-7121pw-dKbnLT-6ZXghB-7aMFFo-6ZXfye-a6G8a6-26PQPAR-ceZ3mw-7aF5cr-7aHRUn-kF3FwP-dKboVp-dKbj4F-3jqo8-dKbmgk-kF5cCu-dKgPvE-edzags-dKbjKc-dKbjtVimprove our outsides. How many people spend their lives yo-yo dieting, trying the latest craze only to be discouraged? Either they lose a lot of weight only to gain it back, or find it impossible to stick with a program long enough to see significant results.

I’ve been working out consistently for a year now. I’ve seen small changes, but nothing huge. At this point, I’m still seeing only small changes, like finally seeing a hint of my collar bone. But I see myself every day. If I looked at a photo from a year ago and compared it to today, I’d see a different story. Recently, I was complaining about the weight I’d put back on. My daughter looked at me in surprise. In her eyes, I’d lost weight because my face was thinner. It didn’t matter that I felt the tightness in my pants and blouses. She only saw the slimming in my face!

Others See Progress Where We May Not

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVMaybe what my daughter sees is more than a slightly less round visage. Maybe she’s seeing the improved self-love I get from committing to a weekly routine of self-improvement. It’s a funny thing about committing to yourself. First, you love yourself enough to make the commitment. Then you love yourself enough to turn the commitment into a habit. After awhile, you see the success you’ve had with one commitment and start making others. Pretty soon, whether you realize it or not, you have a brilliant internal glow because you care enough to treat yourself like someone you love fully and completely.

It only took me the better part of a lifetime to learn what some people find so obvious. I created a lot of terrible habits I had to break before I could set better ones. I’m sure I still have a barrel-full to break and re-set, but knowing I’m on the right track; knowing I can make commitments to myself and stick with them until they become habits is a gigantic milestone in the dark, twisty path that’s been my life up to this point.

Flipping the Switch

Are you self-sabotaging? Do you focus on hating things about yourself instead of loving the person you are deep inside? If so, try committing to loving yourself. Look yourself in the mirror every morning and tell the face in the mirror how much you love them. Then make a commitment to make a small change. Schedule it, reinforce it, and stick with it for a month or better until it becomes a habit. Even small changes raise our self-esteem. I learned the hard way; but our lessons stick better for a little pain in the learning process, don’t they?

Gratitude: The Most Powerful Tool in Our Toolbox

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I learned to commit to myself first and foremost.
  2. I am grateful for friends who inspire and uplift me.
  3. I am grateful for perspective which shows me improvements I hadn’t even noticed.
  4. I am grateful for inspiration guiding me to write further and further ahead.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, friendship, commitment, exercise, self-love, joy, dancing, music, writing, kitty love, clients, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Seeing Improvements, Ignoring Flaws

Focusing on the Improvements

Created in CanvaLately I’ve found myself standing in front of the mirror and instead of seeing all the places in my body and face where I could use some improvements I’m seeing all the progress I’ve made.

Not only is the change of outlook uplifting instead of demoralizing, it motivates me to continue doing the things which contributed to the improvements. Best of all is the change in attitude which has me standing taller, walking more purposefully, and pushing myself to do more; increase the weights more frequently at the gym, do the heavier household tasks I’ve been putting off, drinking more water (5 gallons in about 4 days!), and getting up from my desk more frequently.

Yet the improved viewpoint with regard to my physical self also serves to amplify areas where I have work to do. It enables me to recognize the voices in my head telling me I’m not ready for certain kinds of work, and that there’s a very real chance I’ll let my clients down. I can say to those voices: I’ve achieved things I never thought possible physically, and at an age when most people are noticing their bodies are weakening and becoming less flexible. In many ways, I’ve reversed my own aging process. If I can do that, I can handle whatever I choose to take on, or, as happens often, what’s thrown at me.

Achieving the Impossible by Stretching Our Muscles

Everyone is capable of the impossible as soon as they realize the word can be re-read as “I’m Possible”. Once we recognize the impossible things we’ve already accomplished, we simply need to look at everything else we deem impossible and see how we overcame our own limitations and succeeded, often in extraordinary ways.

When I started managing my gym time and created a regular routine, I had only recently recovered from a herniated disk in my neck. I was unable to lift more than a couple of pounds with my left arm, and then, only a few times. Now, I’m doing chest presses with 35-pound free weights, 50 pound overhead presses, and shoulder lifts with 15 pound free weights. What makes these achievements more amazing is they’ve happened in about 8 months just by being persistent and consistent.

Writing and building a business use a different kind of muscles but muscles nonetheless. They need to be exercised and challenged to do more and do better. I look at what I wrote when I first returned to regular writing 9 years ago after a hiatus of several decades. While it wasn’t bad and my skills were still intact, I can clearly see how it improves over time when I exercise, not only the writing muscles, but those which have allowed me to chip away at walls decades in the making.

Detaching Ourselves from Outdated Lessons

Whatever we undertake which takes us out of our comfort zone is part of our journey and, as such doesn’t have a completion date. We continue to learn and grow, improving our skills and strengthening our muscles as we take on more and more, going beyond what we thought ourselves capable of when we began. The lessons we learned from early childhood forward are interwoven into our psyches and the root system is deeply embedded. We might pull some things out by the roots, but tendrils remain, intertwined with lessons we learned or revisited further along our path.

Like knots in a cord, we untangle things one at a time, often finding bits and pieces of other things interwoven like threads making up the cord itself. With each knot we untie, we uncover dozens of directions we might take to find the next one in the series. There’s no wrong direction or incorrect answer. Only more lessons to rework and, in some cases, unlearn.

Seeking Our Beauty in the Flaws

By far the most important of those lessons involves the way we see and judge ourselves. Until we https://www.flickr.com/photos/geekphysical/34110702621/in/photolist-TYfjPn-TYfjA6-SW9mjv-TYfhFV-nfDXTT-TzQShS-U7cbG3-TYfeGt-SW9q7a-TYffM4-TYfj3T-TYfgur-TzQSHS-U7cdRy-SW9oDR-SW9poM-UaL182-SW9rkH-SW9pEP-r9jQNK-U7ceT3-TYfhAp-TVUzJW-TYfhxt-TYfjgP-TzQM83-UaL13c-TYfeJn-UaL13x-UaL5av-TYfeRM-SW9oAz-SW9qAB-TYfhND-TzQPph-TVUyuw-p57Yrr-FjQDuX-TYffBp-TYfdzZ-UaL2kT-TzQSvY-U7cde1-UaL1Ux-TYffjF-TzQPku-TYfmMRrecognize the beauty in our differences, the value in what we unconsciously deemed flaws, it’s difficult to make progress untying those knots; unearthing the roots. Certainly, we could go about it violently, poisoning the roots and burning the cord. But doing so wouldn’t really alter our thinking or rework the triggers we’ve created through years of living life, falling down, getting hurt, and getting back up again.

We have to approach them as we might a timid animal, making it clear we mean the child within no harm. Otherwise we cling to those old ways, our preferred ways of reacting like a security blanket, refusing to let go no matter how old, filthy, and threadbare they’ve become. Taking the time to untie the knots carefully, we enable ourselves to see how and why they were formed, and where they are no longer necessary. Most importantly, we get to see how the strength we’ve developed has made so many of those old patterns unnecessary. We recognize how strong we’ve become and how much we’ve accomplished by handling the old wounds gently, cleaning them out and allow them to fully heal.

Our Kinder, Gentler Selves

A major part of our gentler handling of those old wounds comes from being willing and able to look at ourselves through kinder eyes with more realistic expectations. From a less lofty and unforgiving place, we see how far we’ve come, how much we’ve improved, and how clear our path is to continued improvement and previously impossible goals. In other words, by seeing how much we’ve improved rather than how much we need to work on.

We’ll always have room for improvement, if only because we, ourselves keep raising the bar the further along we get. We don’t necessarily do it consciously, but because we see that something is attainable and challenge ourselves to do even more. It’s normal and natural, and inspires us, as long as we don’t set the bar so high we can’t see any possible way of achieving our new goals. We need both confidence and hope in this journey we call “life”.

Gratefully Facing Each Day We’re Given

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the dance community which continues to amaze me with the love and support they share so freely.
  2. I am grateful for butt kicks. Even when they’re administered gently, they get me up and moving forward so I can achieve and attain all I have the talent and ability to achieve.
  3. I am grateful for friends who come together in good times and bad, ready to help each other over life’s humps and bumps.
  4. I am grateful for my home, my sanctuary where I can go to regroup when life becomes too challenging for me to handle without some respite.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, friendship, solidarity, support, inspiration, motivation, opportunities to step out of my comfort zone, people who allow me to give and take instead of either or, strength both physical and emotional, joy, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

You Have the Power to Direct Your Thoughts

Thoughts Don’t Have to Become Things

Created with CanvaI’m not blind nor am I dead yet. There are some nice looking men at the gym and I admit I look. Before you think I’m a dirty old woman, many of the most attractive in my eyes are closer to my age than they are to my daughter’s. Yet after a particularly yearning observation I laughed at myself thinking: You know you won’t ever talk to him. Even if you weren’t hobbled by your introverted nature, this is the gym. You rarely talk to or even acknowledge anyone here. The ear buds go in before you walk through the door and stay in until you’re back in the safety of your car.

I also have it lodged firmly in my mind that I won’t encounter men who dance at the gym while I’m there in the middle of the day and I’ve convinced myself it’s a show-stopper.

Besides, that nagging little voice inside me contributes the ones you admire wouldn’t give you a second look. Your dedication means nothing as long as you’re still 40 pounds overweight, and sporting baggy shorts, a saggy men’s t-shirt, and a messy bun.

Nagging Voices from Distant Memories

How often do we let that nagging voice convince us we’re unworthy despite our best efforts? While we https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nmay be successful and confident in some areas of our lives, there are still places where that deeply ingrained insecurity cuts us into tiny pieces.

We can’t cut the voice out like the cancer it is. Instead, we must dig deep into our psyche and find the source. Typically it’s found in our earliest memories; in an event or series of events from our childhood. It’s there we must return and reprogram ourselves.

Too often, well-meaning parents seek to make us better people by pointing out our faults. I’m sure I did the same to my kids despite my best efforts to see the good in them first. Plenty of people manage to get through those early years with minimal damage to their overall self-esteem. But many of us don’t. We carry the wounds of all the not-good-enoughs we heard well into our adult years, and watch the demons rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune moments.

In my case, it tends to happen when I allow myself to want something too much, or feel left out because I’m hovering on the outskirts. Never mind in most cases the outskirts is exactly where I want to be, and have probably put myself there on purpose. When I start feeling left out of things, I quickly forget my own part in creating the space I’m in.

One Area of Our Lives May Be More Impacted Than Others

https://www.flickr.com/photos/34167287@N05/23787059822/in/photolist-CeYUa5-f3skzG-26xyyFN-8Uqt6v-7RUJnT-5631Bv-9KzjET-otM3UU-9KC7p3-6EcqkE-rtobLr-5xx9XP-7Bj5nM-4JDZ1E-21oAHiQ-7Csyge-7YZVSv-7Z4a4L-7Z4a5b-4Btbxi-5m1iya-i54aYC-4BxARm-i54aXq-YA2ERd-4kmex7-WgVGRw-8GceK9-i548Lu-6m1sit-ospDf4-58cZtS-i54b7d-ggwmL-cKWfHj-bg5Uu-bsSgAg-8GcvXA-q68RzV-4fFkFc-e3cS7q-aQ7Ph-bg8hZ-q6pHnG-4VXWUt-dYksek-277AbZE-4VWArR-4VXUXR-2b2aNGJMen are one of my biggest challenges. As a teenager, and well into my 20’s, I didn’t really date. I had lots of guy friends who’d use me as a sounding board for their girl problems. I never asked them to return the favor. Not that I didn’t date at all, but my experiences were typically short-lived and unsatisfying, probably for both of us. My awkwardness with anything remotely resembling intimacy couldn’t have been comfortable for anyone who tried to get past the hard shell which was well on the way to becoming the sky high walls of my 30’s and 40’s. Then again, the men I chose weren’t exactly looking for long, heartfelt talks. In retrospect, each one was broken in his own way, just like me.

The trouble was I, like so many others had learned to believe the negative voices instead of what I saw, felt, and heard with my own senses. I couldn’t believe someone would actually like me for myself, and had plenty of evidence to confirm my beliefs. Little did I realize it was me who created those failures by listening to the wrong voices.

These days, I’ve reverted to my teenage years in some of the more positive aspects. I have guy friends I’m comfortable with, and with whom I can be myself because I enjoy their friendship with no expectations, or even desire for something more. I can again be their sounding board and give my honest opinion without fear they’ll run away if we don’t happen to see eye to eye.

Recognizing Progress

But I’ve locked myself into a false sense of security. I stick with the “safe” ones who won’t try to breach my much less impenetrable barriers. I keep my distance from anyone who causes the slightest tingle of awareness, convincing myself there’s no possible way it could be mutual. And though the person I see in the mirror looks pretty damn good to my eyes, my mind continues to tell lies about what other people see. Most of all, I set unrealistic limits and expectations so no one will ever meet my requirements.

Yet I realize even being able to look in the mirror and see qualities instead of flaws is a huge step for me. It also gives me hope I’ll continue on the more positive road to where I allow myself to believe others see me as I do in those moments of clarity and complimentary awareness.

Beauty vs. Perfection

Created in CanvaI was reading something recently that said each and every one of us is beautiful. It didn’t say perfect, and frankly, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder anyway. What’s perfect for me might be the opposite for the person standing next to me. So realizing each and every one of us is beautiful in our own way is quite the revelation, yet so obvious at the same time.

Because beauty and perfection are in the eyes of the beholder, one of the first steps to shutting down the negative voice that says others see us a certain way is to realize we can’t possibly know what someone else sees. So why do we decide what others are thinking? Or how they perceive us? In doing so, we unconsciously carry ourselves differently, never giving them a chance to form their own opinions without us muddying the waters with off-putting behavior.

Re-reading the last paragraph, I find myself getting angry. How dare we prevent another person from forming their own opinion? How dare we put words in their mouths; thoughts in their heads. In our failure to shut down the negative voices, we do many people a disservice. At the same time, we deprive them of getting to know someone who just might be “the one”, or at least could become a close, trusted friend.

Doing Other People an Injustice By Listening to the Negative Thoughts

When we give into the negative voices, we’re not just harming ourselves. We harm a lot of people we unconsciously push away. Sure, they’ll never realize what they might have missed. They move on and find people who draw them in rather than pushing them away. But what a cruel hoax we perpetuate.

I’m learning, slowly but surely to silence those nagging voices, or simply tell them flat out they’re telling lies and I refuse to listen. More people get to see my soft, mushy side these days, though admittedly, the only men I include are those I consider “safe”. But changing our ways is a process. We start with the outermost layers and work our way inward.

So celebrate the small changes. Look in the mirror every morning and pay yourself a compliment. Listen to your friends with your heart open, and try to share the same way. In time, those negative voices lose their power over you. At first, you bounce back more quickly, but ultimately, you reach the point where they’re little more than a fly buzzing around the room. Irritating, but with no impact on your overall mood and outlook.

Finding Gratitude Everywhere

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the changes I’ve made in my life.
  2. I am grateful for friends who now feel comfortable sharing their struggles and challenges, and not just their successes and triumphs.
  3. I am grateful for the ability to see my own beauty even when covered in sweat and dressed in unflattering clothes.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities which are beginning to open doors and allow people to come to me with projects, ideas, and above all, hope.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, joy, love, confidence, dancing, kitty love, early rising, productive days, new directions, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

Those Baby Steps Again!

Overcoming Adversity a Pound at a Time

In mid-2015 I started experiencing a lot of pain in my left shoulder. By early 2016 it had gotten so bad, my arm was continually numb and even a bra strap on my shoulder was more pressure than even my extraordinarily high pain tolerance could handle. After x-rays revealed issues in my neck, I consulted with an orthopedist who found a herniated disk along with spinal stenosis.

When I began the prescribed physical therapy, I was barely able to lift 1-pound weights, which was a significant decrease from my previous ability to do chest presses and flys with 15-pound free weights. But between the physical therapy and changing my diet, I slowly regained enough strength to use 5- and eventually, 10-pound weights.

Creating Our Own Brand of Consistency

Over the last couple of years, I was intermittently continuing regular workouts and gaining strength in fits and starts. My progress was directly related to the consistency of my gym visits, or lack thereof. The baby steps were happening, but the irregularity of my commitment was easily apparent in the slow and sometimes nonexistent increase in strength I observed.

That all changed in the last few months. I finally realized the only way to honor my commitment to myself was to keep track of when I went to the gym, and to schedule regular days, not only for workouts, but for specific areas being worked as well. With consistency came greater progress, and I’m now doing flys and presses with 25-pound free weights, and bench pressing 55 pounds. It might not seem like much to those who have achieved consistency over the long term, but for me, it represents more than merely the most weight I’ve ever been able to manage, but the result of finding what worked for me.

I don’t push myself as hard as a lot of the people I see at the gym for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is lack of a spotter. But I’m also at an age where I have to be more careful of the exercises I do and the amount of weight I’m using. I may not look my age on the outside, but on the inside, things are not as flexible or resilient as they once were. I’d rather err on the side of caution and continue to retain my independence.

I have noticed that lifting the 5-gallon water bottles with one hand has become far simpler lately. And clothes I had to weigh less to wear are now fitting though I’m 5 or 6 pounds heavier.

Taking Smaller Steps to Larger Goals

What I’m really trying to demonstrate with my story is that baby steps will always get you where you want to go eventually. It’s not how big the steps you take might be, but the consistency of taking those steps. Face it, a thousand 2 foot steps will get you a whole lot farther than 10 20 foot steps. And in the process, those smaller steps will build up your strength, or teach you new skills, or even gain you some help on your journey. If you want to reach your goals more quickly, you’re often better off taking more small steps instead of a few bigger ones. Each of those small steps is a brick in the foundation you’re building to support the new and improved version of yourself.

When we take a lot of small steps, we’re spending time reinforcing the changes we’re making. We also leave more space to adjust our course if something is taking us away from what we want. Or, as more often happens, our goal changes because we learn new things which open up possibilities we could neither see nor consider when we began. It’s a lot easier to adjust course if we’ve gone a foot or two off track vs. several miles. If nothing else, less distance to backtrack means we start moving forward much sooner.

Lovin’ My Baby Steps

As you may have read in other posts, I’m a big fan of baby steps for a lot of reasons.

  • Less course correction, as previously mentioned
  • More time to learn skills you’ll need as you get closer to your goals
  • Opportunities for collaboration you might miss if you’re moving too fast
  • Creation of healthier habits from commitments you make to yourself
  • A stronger foundation because you’re taking the time and care to expand on what’s working and jettison what’s not

Needless to say, I’m more the tortoise than the hare, plodding along at what might sometimes seem a snail’s pace. But don’t be fooled by my lack of visible progress. I’m likely working on something that isn’t visible to the naked eye, but is critical to the integrity of the structure I’m creating. You don’t see the re-bar in the slab beneath your house or office building, but its presence means you’re standing on much firmer ground.

Finding Our Own Ways and Means

Some people learn life skills like fixing things around the house, balancing a check book, and creating a budget. They know how to read a contract and how to ask questions to be sure they’re getting exactly what they want and need. They’re also less likely to be taken in by a salesperson with questionable ethics (though not immune, to be sure!), and more likely to call someone on “facts” that don’t add up.

Others really struggle with what some of us consider elementary concepts. They’re easy targets for people who care only for the money they make from people whose welfare they believe is not their concern.

The same is true of the steps we take to reach our goals and the commitments we make to the steps required to achieve them. For some, the steps are obvious and the commitments necessary are easy. Others are faced with dilemmas with each new phase. Those dilemmas might be physical, mental, or emotional restrictions. They might also be purely moral.

Nobody Knows You Like You Do

Whatever drives you to choose one path or another is unique to you, and has very valid reasons for being necessary. It doesn’t matter if your choices make no sense to anyone else. For you, they represent steps you have to take to get to the next level. By the same token, steps someone else takes might seem obvious or elementary to you because you’re coming to the table with a different set of skills.

To move forward, it’s necessary to step outside our comfort zone, but how fast we take those steps is unique to us, and necessary. If we step too quickly for our own abilities and discomfort, we’re more likely to dive back into our shell of comfort and security than move forward. We all need to find our own “sweet spot” of discomfort where we can tolerate risk for the promise of a reward.

Several wise people have pointed out we are all at different stages in our life plan. You can’t measure yourself against someone else because you’ll be ahead of them in some areas, behind them in others, and on the same level in still others. What’s more important is to realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be right here and right now.

Grateful Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my increasing physical strength.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I’m learning which help me push further out of my comfort zone.
  3. I am grateful for slow, steady progress and the help I find along the way.
  4. I am grateful for momentum. The further I go, the more I achieve in less time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; strength, health, flexibility, knowledge, help, connections, inspiration, motivation, detours, delays, aha moments, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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